“I ask you to believe nothing you cannot verify for yourself” – G. I. Gurdjieff

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G.I. Gurdjieff was born in Alexandropol, close to the frontiers of Russia and Turkey, circa 1866. Finding that neither science nor religion answered his questions about the meaning of man’s life, he became convinced that an ancient knowledge must exist and could still be found on Earth. After twenty years of search in remote parts of Central Asia and the Near East, he returned to Russia in 1912. Settling near Paris in 1922, he established the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at Fontainebleau. In 1924, he made the first of a series of visits to America. In 1929, he moved from Fontainebleau to Paris where he continued writing and working with a small number of students until his death in 1949.

Here is some of his wisdom:

“Religion is Doing; a man does not merely think his religion or feel it, he ‘lives’ his religion as much as he is able, otherwise it is not religion but fantasy or philosophy. Whether he likes it or not he shows his attitude towards religion by his actions and he can show his attitude only by his actions. Therefore if his actions are opposed to those which are demanded by a given religion he cannot assert that he belongs to that religion.”


“There do exist enquiring minds which long for the truth of the heart, seek it, strive to solve the problems set by life, try to penetrate to the essence of things and phenomena and to penetrate into themselves. If a man reasons and thinks soundly, no matter which path he follows in solving these problems, he must inevitably arrive back at himself, and begin with the solution of the problem of what he is himself and what his place is in the world around him. For without this knowledge, he will have no focal point in his search. Socrates’ words, ‘Know thyself’ remain for all those who seek true knowledge and being.”


“All Religions speak about death during this life on Earth. Death must come before rebirth. But what must die? False confidence in one’s own knowledge, self-love and egoism….”

“The Evolution of man can be taken as the development in him of those powers and possibilities which never develop by themselves, that is, mechanically. Only this kind of development, only this kind of growth, marks the real evolution of man. There is, and there can be, no other kind of evolution whatever.… In speaking of evolution it is necessary to understand from the outset that no mechanical evolution is possible. The evolution of man is the evolution of his consciousness. And ‘consciousness’ cannot evolve unconsciously.”

Faith of consciousness is freedom
Faith of feeling is weakness
Faith of body is stupidity.
Love of consciousness evokes the same in response
Love of feeling evokes the opposite
Love of body depends only on type and polarity.
Hope of consciousness is strength
Hope of feelings is slavery
Hope of body is disease.


You can find out more about his life and work through The Gurdjieff Foundation.


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Andrew Cort

(Tomorrow: The Coming of the Divine Child)

John Backman says:

That’s well said, Andrew. It calls to mind so many stories of the Zen masters, who steadfastly refuse their students easy answers and instead insist that they achieve their own enlightenment.

I had not heard of Gurdjieff, but the quotes in this post have sparked my interest to learn more. Thank you for bringing him to my attention.

Andrew Cort says:

I once heard a spiritual teacher of mine bellow at a student who had just ‘agreed’ with something he said, “You have NO RIGHT to believe me! Find out for YOURSELF!” This is when I learned the difference between an authentic Teacher and a mere Cult Leader. The cult leader tells you what to believe, a Teacher pushes you to learn how to think and experience for yourself — rare qualities we usually believe we already possess, and the necessary beginning of genuine spiritual work. (In fact, this change in ‘how we think’ is the real meaning of the Greek word ‘metanoia’, a word the Gospels usually translate as ‘repent’ for some reason.)